FFSAQ has developed a Freshwater Recreational Fishing Position Statement as part of a process to enlist support from government to enhance the future of freshwater recreational fishing in Queensland.
Given that a State Government Election is due to be called by March next year, copies of the statement (details of which will be in the next issue of QFM) have been provided to political parties, Cabinet Ministers, and all Members of Parliament.
Hopefully responses will be forthcoming from political parties so as to inform the fishing fraternity prior to voting at the election. It is also expected that individual comment will be received from the Fisheries Minister and the Tourism Minister, as both these portfolios have, or at least should have, a specific involvement in enhancing the fishery and also to expanding the tourism industry.
But this is not the case. Tourism Minister Jan Jarratt has advised that the matter has been passed on to the Fisheries Minister for consideration. By this action, the Tourism Minister is stating that recreational fishing has no role to play in promoting tourism opportunities in Queensland.
Recreational fishing in Queensland, including freshwater fishing, is a significant social and economic activity in the state. Government surveys indicate that there are 800,000 fishers in the state of Queensland. The number of interstate fishers is not known, but is considered to be substantial. The impact that both these local and interstate fishers has on, or has the potential to have on, the tourist industry in Queensland has to be immense. But the Tourism Minister’s response to FFSAQ’s Position Statement totally ignores this opportunity.
The tourism industry in Queensland, at both government and private levels, needs to heed the approach of the Northern Territory where it recognises and embraces recreational fishing as a core sector of its tourism industry. Queensland has enormous potential to not only create sustainable and productive fisheries for its own constituency, but also to attract fishers from interstate and overseas.
It would appear that the Minister is oblivious to the fact that there are currently approximately 80 impoundments in Queensland stocked with barramundi, Australian bass, golden perch and more, and that each species is keenly sought after by the travelling public.
This rich fishery has been established by the public purchasing Stocked Impoundment Permits. If these fisheries were more adequately recognised, supported, and promoted by both government and the tourist industry, the economic and social return to Queensland would be significant and measurable.
Western Queensland, the Gulf of Carpentaria, and Cape York, all have natural fisheries that if promoted sustainably, could be a real draw card for tourists. But instead, the tourist angler travels straight to the Northern Territory.
The media reports on the current down turn of the tourist industry on a regular basis. Many an industry spokesperson is espousing the dismal plight of the sector. However, if Queensland had a vibrant and well promoted recreational fishing industry, this would at least give some respite to others sectors that are currently having difficulty. FFSAQ sees the freshwater fishery as part of the solution.
FFSAQ has advised the Minister that freshwater fishing has enormous potential to be a major player in the tourist industry, in not only providing both social and economic benefits to local communities, but also in attracting interstate and overseas tourist to Queensland.
But alas, the Minister fails to recognise this opportunity. No wonder the tourist industry is in dire straits. FFSAQ has also sought a meeting with the Minister to discuss these opportunities, but has been ignored.
In early August, FFSAQ had the opportunity to meet with Craig Wallace, the newly appointed Minister for Main Roads, Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure. The object of the delegation was to introduce FFSAQ to the Minister and to explain the role that FFSAQ undertakes on behalf of the community.
The Minister responded in a receptive an enthusiastic manner, and was prepared to consider the enhancement of freshwater fishing in Queensland in a meaningful manner.
FFSAQ informed the Minister that recreational freshwater fishing in Queensland has tremendous opportunities in both the natural waterways and in the stocked impoundments. Currently there are hindrances that are impeding the growth of this industry, but there is no doubt that with a cooperative joint partnership arrangement between government and the community, significant enhancements can be achieved.
FFSAQ advised that it wishes to be part of the solution, and is willing to work closely with all sectors of government to achieve these ideals.
A brief summary of the discussion outcomes were:
That FFSAQ is recognised and accepted as the peak body representing recreational freshwater fishing in Queensland, and that FFSAQ will be engaged in all activities relating thereto.
The Minister gave an undertaking to consider options that would provide funding for FFSAQ that will allow effective communication and service delivery to its membership.
The Minister gave an assurance that a response to FFSAQ’s Freshwater Recreational Fishing Policy Statement would be forthcoming.
That FFSAQ be represented at all future Fisheries Queensland meetings that determines policy, administration, and allocation distribution of the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme (SIP).
The Minister advised that FFSAQ would have representation on the proposed Recreational Fishing Advisory committee.
With the ongoing spread and infestation of tilapia across Queensland, there is now real concern that this declared noxious fish specie could infiltrate the Murray Darling Basin system. A series of workshops have been convened by Fisheries Queensland across the top end of the basin where it is most likely that any introduction could occur. FFSAQ attended the workshop held at Warwick on 13 August.
Tilapia can outcompete native fish for habitat and food, and their feeding and nesting habits can degrade water quality. A breeding population of tilapia established in the basin would see the pest fish quickly dominate the water body. The result would be a loss of native fish numbers.
The workshop agenda included introducing tilapia, history of pest management, identification, rapid response and survey techniques, eradication or control, and community education.
Recently FFSAQ sought clarification of the legislation regarding regulations of traditional net fishing by indigenous people. The following was received from Fisheries Queensland.
“Net fishing is not allowed in freshwater areas. However, there are several exceptions that may occur under permit including supporting indigenous rights, scientific research and pest fish eradication. With respect to taking fish for traditional purposes, this indigenous right is facilitated through the issuing of a general fisheries permit issued by Fisheries Queensland. These permits are issued to individuals that are recognized by traditional owners. Permits are issued for a limited period, usually not more than one week and can only be exercised to catch fish for a specific cultural event. Nets that are used under these permits are not permitted to be set across a watercourse.” – Les Kowitz (FFSAQ).Reads: 2800